Re: RE: ARE WE QUALIFIED TO CRITICIZE H.P.B.?
Jan 04, 1999 11:07 PM
by Richard Taylor
In a message dated 1/5/99 1:34:22 AM, Dallas wrote to Jerry:
<<When any of us will have the ability to write a SECRET DOCTRINE,
or even a KEY TO THEOSOPHY, we might arrogate to ourselves the
right to voice a question or an opinion direct to her on matters
that we find confusing in her life-work.>>
I realize that Dallas's message is to Jerry, so probably it is none of my
business. But as it was posted on the public forum, I can't refrain from
If the above quote were in fact the operating principle of the Theosopical
Movement today, and not just Dallas's personal stance, *I would quit today.*
The idea that one may not "voice a question or an opinion" unless one can
produce a work like The Secret Doctrine is preposterous. This is setting up a
church, with a choir of believers who fall right into line, singing the
praises of the Christ-figure.
Let me state, clearly for all readers, that I am not interested in the Church
of Theosophy. Further, I should be terrified if the above quote ever became
the prevailing attitude among Theosophical students.
Dallas further writes,
<<Personally I do not think that any one of us has such a right and
I would ask you to advance any proof, other than your unsupported
opinion about her competence. Has anyone proved that she "made
mistakes?" Or has "misled" anyone ?>>
I realize that the preceding stream of discussion on Gelugpas, Nyingmapas,
Tibetan Buddhism, Karmamudra, etc., has been long and tiresome, especially for
those without extensive Buddhist background. However, I and several others
have time and again brought forward "proofs" (in the form of modern
scholarship, as well as quotes from the ORIGINAL texts by the likes to Tsong
Kha Pa and dharma-heirs) that, if she is TAKEN LITERALLY, Blavatsky appears to
be wrong on not one, but several points relating to Tibetan Buddhism. That
has been the burdern of the entire preceding month or more of discussion.
The fact that HPB might have been wrong about those points (and this isn't yet
clear in my mind, since I suspect I may misunderstand her) does *NOT*
invalidate all of Theosophy, or make HPB a fool or a dreamer. It indicates
that she, or her sources, or some aspect of their communication to us, erred.
<<I can understand your being annoyed at the constant reference to
her name by me and some others who reverence her. But that is
our problem and not yours.>>
Neither Jerry nor I nor anyone else on this forum, I think, is "annoyed" by
the constant reference to HPB's name. This is, for goodness' sake, a
THEOSOPHICAL discussion list. What *is* annoying, however, are the regular
attempts by several participants to use quotes from HPB to *terminate*
discussion. Quotes from HPB which illuminate the discussions at hand are
extremely valuable. Quotes which purport to show that certain participants
are Dugpas, or that everyone should give up modern scholarship and just
worship HPB, are useless and a real turn-off.
<<What is a fact is: that without her and her work, we would not
have THEOSOPHY. As such I believe that respect is due to her,
especially as she is not here to defend herself. Again I say
that it is not courageous to criticize those who are unable to
defend themselves. >>
This is perhaps the greatest fallacy I've heard on this list, and the most
dangerous, and here it is: to criticize something Blavatsky WROTE is to
criticize her as a person, a spiritual giant, a leader, a pioneer, one who
sacrificed her health, freedom, and good name to give us a spiritual life
worth living in the West. To criticize any single statement Blavatsky is, to
whit, to turn one's back on her and betray the entire movement. What
Why is it so impossible to conceive of the idea that one with REVERENCE for
HPB might also investigate her work and find disagreements, confusions,
typographical errors, and errors of fact?
I will go out on a long limb here and say that, if HPB were to witness the
discussion on this list, I think she would find those who seek truth at all
costs, even against the mass of conservative Theosophy-types, are truly the
courageous ones. Those who are willing to forgo the establishment, to think
for themselves, to study the same texts that HPB claims to have studies, to
risk one's good Theosophical name and the friendships that come out of being
"orthodox" and "cooperative" -- these are the courageous ones, and I think HPB
(She would probably also kick our butts for being so stupid as to miss the
obvious meanings in her work which explain our current dilemmas.)
There are certainly Theosophists who are content to read Blavatsky's works,
and read them again, and read them again, and read them again, and read them
again. I will not (here) criticize such a method of work. If it seems
valuable to a person, then so be it.
There are other "Methods of Theosophical Work," (an article by William Q.
Judge), which in my mind are equally legitimate, if not more so. This is to
attempt to give oneself a Theosophical education by reading HPB, then learning
about what she refers to as parallel movements to Theosophy in history
(Mahayana Buddhism, Gnosticism, Vedantic Hinduism, Kabbala, Tibetan Tantra).
Then comparing those source with HPB's teachings again. Then, using intellect
and intuition, trying to grasp a larger portion of the perennial philosophy
(of which HPB is only an aspect) than hitherto grasped. Taken together with
meditation on certain "root texts" like The Voice of the Silence, one may get
a very good understanding of not only Blavatsky's teachings, but the sweep and
scope of the last 5,000 years of human spiritual endeavor. It is a wider,
deeper course of study than most Theosophical centers can provide, and it also
confers the benefit on the student of beings able to PROVE the accuracy of
HPB's teachings by reference to dozens of other authors and spiritual texts in
history (and not just quotes from her).
This method may not appeal to all, or even many. But I question the right of
others to criticize this method. One may say this latter method risks
becoming wrapped up in the Eye Doctrine. But one may respond that the former
method (basically memorization) risks becoming wrapped up in fundamentalism
and ignorance of everything beyond the purview of HPB's words.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application